A History of the Indians of the United States by Angie Debo
You have read Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and you want to find out more. This is a book to consider, for it is an all embracing history of the native Americans. Beginning with a survey of the range of peoples and the arrival of Europeans it charts the outcomes of interactions between the two cultures in an academic, objective style which is nevertheless readable and interesting. It does help having a little knowledge before tackling it, because the timescale is so wide the book is packed with information. If it is all new information then absorbing it might be rather daunting.
Angie Debo was the daughter of a settler in Oklahoma who moved in ten years after the Land Rush of 1889 when Angie was aged 9. As she grew up she became interested in the history of the state in which she lived. Angie Debo studied History at the University of Oklahoma and received her bachelor’s degree. She taught history for four years at a high school before studying international relations at the University of Chicago and gaining a master’s degree. Angie Debo returned to the University of Oklahoma to study for her doctorate. Her thesis was published as ‘The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic’
Angie Debo’s next project was to lead to problems for her finding a job within the academic world. In her research she unearthed disturbing evidence that the ‘five civilized tribes’ had been cheated out of their land because oilfields lay beneath it. Influential figures were involved in a complex plot and were guilty of theft and murder. Despite her track record Debo was unable to find a publisher for ‘And Still the Waters Run’ which set down her findings. Angie Debo was dismissed as a troublemaker and was unable to find University employment. Finally Princeton University published her books in 1950.
Against this backdrop it is perhaps understandable that Debo writes rather detachedly, with little emotion or obvious sympathy for the native Americans. Perhaps she is right, the facts are alarming enough to speak for themselves and the reader can reach their own conclusions. “I am sometimes asked to state my ‘goals and ambitions in writing”, she wrote,” I suppose I have only one: to discover truth and publish it.”